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Understanding Jamaican Patois: An Introduction to Afro-Jamaican Grammar [Paperback]

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Item description for Understanding Jamaican Patois: An Introduction to Afro-Jamaican Grammar by L. Emilie Adams...

This easy-to-understand introduction to Afro-Jamaican grammar "explains clearly and simply the basics of Jamaican patois. Most importantly I think the book has an important role to play in helping Jamaicans take pride in their language and see that it is not second-class" (Deborah Pruitt, anthropologist, Berkeley, California). (Foreign Language Studies)

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Item Specifications...

Studio: LMH Publishing Company
Pages   120
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 0.25" Width: 5.75" Height: 8.75"
Weight:   0.4 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Dec 1, 1991
Publisher   LMH Publishing Company
ISBN  9766101558  
ISBN13  9789766101558  

Availability  0 units.

More About L. Emilie Adams

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Reference > Foreign Languages > General
2Books > Subjects > Reference > Foreign Languages > Instruction > Miscellaneous
3Books > Subjects > Reference > General
4Books > Subjects > Reference > Words & Language > Study & Teaching

Reviews - What do customers think about Understanding Jamaican Patois: An Introduction to Afro-Jamaican Grammar?

The price is right  May 3, 2004
Several years back I was in Jamaica, The people there speak english well, but between each other they speak Patois. During my first trip there I spent many hours talking with bartenders and waitress' trying to learn the language. I did get down 'gimme a Red Stripe man' but I wanted to be able to understand them. At the airport on my way home I stopped in one of the book stores and picked up a copy of this book which sells there for a whopping $26 US. I read it through out the year and by the time I returned the following year I could actually understand a good bit of what they were saying, and some of the locals actually thought I worked there at one of the cruise ship terminals. It goes through sentence structure and tenses, not just a list of common phrases. In reference to the Afro-Jamaican it compares different parts of the language to where it probably came from which many times it is linked to different African languages, no reference to the different people who currently speak the language.
Getting it wrong  Aug 7, 2002
I second Azucena's review and I'd add that it is clear Adams isn't a linguist as she mis-hears some important parts of Jamaican speech. For example, the short vowel in the words 'bird' and 'work' does NOT sound like that in standard English 'book,' but more like that in 'thud.'

Adams would have been better off transcribing the sounds in some standard phonetic alphabet, or, to make the book more accessible, in the same mix that Jamaicans do. Ef yuh ah goh mek it up, yuh haffi come betta dan dat!

Don't categorize us Jamaicans  Jun 14, 2002
I haven't read this book, let me just get that out of the way.

However, as a degree-holder in linguistics and a Jamaican, I must say that the title alone emphasizes what must be an ineptness by the author to understand the Jamaican dynamic. There are no "Afro-Jamaicans." We are Jamaicans. Period. Some of us are black, some are white, some are Chinese, Syrian, etc. My mother is white, born in Sav-La-Mar, Jamaica, her grand-parents were from Ireland and Wales. She grew up speaking Jamaican Creole but that doesn't make her "Afro-Jamaican." Not all Jamaicans use this dialect, and not all users of this dialect are black.

Furthermore, although the Jamaicans loosely define their language as "patois", that is not what their language is called. A patois is defined as "uneducated speech" or "a dialect different from but based upon the main spoken language of the region." What the Jamaicans speak is certainly not uneducated speech, and any qualified linguist knows that every dialect and every language is complex and complete in its own way. Linguistically speaking, what we speak in certain areas of Jamaican can be called a creole, which is one of the final stages of a birth of a new language created from the pidgin of other languages.

Maybe the author utilized the words "afro" and "patois" to reach a broader audience, but at the expense of perpetuating false perceptions of the Jamaican people and language?

Jamaican patois and its Sweet 'n Swarthy Speakers  Apr 23, 2001
This is a fine guide to the grammar of Jamaican patois. Adams outlines sentence structure and verb forms with the expertise of someone who has lived and taught in "Jam-dung" for much her life. As a strange and unfamiliar language, it is interesting to learn just for its own sake. But for practical purposes, this is an excellent tool for anyone who wishes to cement lasting bonds with the finest collection of women on the planet: Jamaican women. The guide to verb particles is invaluable, as this can certainly be the greatest obstacle to any white-skinned fool who tries to learn patois. Vocabulary and local idioms are ever-changing in Jamaica, so the reader quickly finds that some of Adams' Glossary entries are either outdated, rarely used, or both. For a greater understanding of vocabulary, you'll need to have sustained contact with Jamaican folk and their speech habits. On the whole, there has been no greater pleasure in my life than my adventures with this unusual tongue. A white man's self-education in Jamaican patois often seems like chasing the wind, but the rewards are such that the work is well worth it in the end. So for anyone who relishes dark eyes, corn-rows, and long tawny legs, I suggest that you read Adams' book on the remarkable language of these equally remarkable women, and just sit back and watch with glee as you gather into your greedy arms the payoff of studying Jamaican patois.
A Basic Introduction  Aug 4, 2000
For those interested in language ceolization, Understanding Jamaican Patois is a good description of the basics of the creole spoken in Jamaica. A relatively short book, it spends a good deal of time talking about orthography, which is always a problem/concern with a primarily oral language. This discussion is interestingly illustrated in the reading selection (a childhood tale by Llewellen "Dada" Adams) at the end of the book, which is written in facing pages in the two orthographies (one mixes phonetic and standard spellings; the second is purely phonetic). Ending the book is an all-too-short appendix comparing some similar features in Haitian and Jamaican patois.

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